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Scripting for films and Television: No readymade script

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The script is one of the most important elements of film-making but its creator - the scriptwriter - is shoddily treated, poorly paid, mostly plagiarised, and not given the importance that should be given. This was the opinion of the panel on scripting for films and television which was chaired by eminent filmmake Shyam Benegal. There is a tremendous paucity of scriptwriting training available in India, the panel which consisted of film maker Ramesh Sippy, once Channel 4 commissioning editor Farrukh Dhondy, scriptwriter Rekha Nigam, and former Channel Nine CEO Ravina Raj Kohli.

Dhondy pointed out that with corporatisation coming into the Indian film industry the age of films being made without full scripts will come to an end. "The need for scripting particularly is going to be felt as without it banks will be unwilling to fund productions," he said . "The entire cost and saleability of a film project can be decided only if a script is in place and besides scriptwriters need the money to survive," he added.

Scriptwriter, producer and actor Akash Khurana highlighted the fact that all the major successful films today were being scripted by the directors themselves. "Ashutosh Gowariker, Farhan Akthar, they wrote and directed their own films," he said. "Screenwriting was self taught and one needed talent to write successfully, earlier, but we need more formal training now."

He praised the efforts taken by television services company Indian Television Dot Com (which runs this website) to improve the writers' lot with their unique ongoing training workshop Qalam.

Director Ramesh Sippy emphasized the need for a good script, particularly the saleablity aspect before scripts could be shortlisted.

Ravina Raj Kohli spoke about how people prefer not to write for TV and the disrespect and problems a writer has to face. Hardly anybody wrote original scripts for television. In fact there were commitees specially in channels who were there solely to disapprove scripts, Kohli said, in lighter vein.

Nigam echoed the other panelists and said that the lot of scriptwriters has to improve and that they should stand up for their rights.

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